As part of the new approach to parenting and child-related concerns in Illinois, divorced, separated, or unmarried parents will be expected to actively participate in their child’s upbringing. While the expectation of active parenting is not necessarily a new concept, recent changes to the law require parents to become more engaged right from the beginning, even before determinations are made regarding their specific responsibilities.
Allocation of Parental Responsibilities
The entire notion of child custody, as it has been understood for many years, is being revamped beginning in January 2016. Labels and titles such as custodial and non-custodial parents, sole custody and joint custody are being eliminated in favor of more cooperative attitude toward parenting. The new take on child custody is meant to keep the focus of both parents on the child where it belongs, rather than on “winning” or “losing” a custody battle. Instead of assuming predetermined roles with small variations based on individual circumstances, parents will now be expected to develop a parenting plan that is entirely customized to meet the needs of their own family.
While a family court will still have the authority to allocate parental responsibilities, the law recognizes that parents themselves often have the best grasp on what their child needs, and their own abilities to provide it. Thus, within 120 days of filing a petition for the allocation of parental responsibilities or receiving notice that the other parent has filed, the parents must file a proposed parenting plan with the court. Each parent may submit a separate plan or they may develop one together. If necessary, the court may order mediation to help parents reach a reasonable compromise when the proposed plans are significantly different.
However the final parenting plan is reached, the law requires the agreement to contain a number of specific elements to ensure the child’s needs will be met. These include:
- Each parent’s significant decision-making responsibilities;
- A parenting time schedule;
- Means of settling disagreements or making future adjustments to the plan;
- Each parent’s rights to the child’s medical, child care, and school records;
- Primary residential responsibilities, for the purposes of school attendance and child support concerns;
- Notification requirements regarding moves, travel plans, and emergencies;
- Transportation arrangements between the parents;
- Details regarding the right of first refusal; and
- Any other relevant or necessary details.
Once a parenting plan has been accepted by the court, it becomes legally enforceable. Failure to comply with the terms of the agreement can lead to sanctions by the court, and, if compliance issues continue, the restriction or reduction of parental responsibilities.
If you are in the process of developing a parenting plan for your allocation of parental responsibilities proceeding, contact an experienced St. Charles family law attorney. We can help you draft a plan that fully protects your rights as a parent while keeping the focus squarely on serving your child’s best interests. Call 630-377-7770 today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation and get the answers you need from a law firm you can trust.